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Why Tattoos and Body Art Are Not Acceptable for Job Interviews

Body Art Has Been Around Since Pre-Historic Times

Tattoos, piercings and other forms of body art are becoming increasingly common and more popular these days.

According to a January 1, 2007 article by Cate Lineberry entitled Tattoos - The Ancient and Mysterious History and found on the Smithsonian Institute’s website, tattoos have been used in many places and cultures from ancient times to the present.

The Smithsonian Magazine article points out that scientists studying Ötzi the Iceman, whose well preserved body was discovered in 1991 in a melting glacier in the Alps, discovered that his body had a number of small tattoos on it.

HubMob Greatest Hits graphic for April 2011

Carbon dating has determined that Ötzi the Iceman lived between 5,200 and 5,300 years ago.

This means  that tattooing, which is currently popular among members of the so called Gen X and Gen Y portion of the population, is nothing new.

The same is true for piercings and other types of body art as they have also been practiced in most parts of the world since prehistoric times.

Remove the Rings and Cover the Tattoos

Part of My Job Involves Coaching Adult Students About What Employers are Looking For in an Employee

While I have no tattoos or other types of body art and have never had the desire to obtain any, I have to deal with it almost daily at work.

I manage an adult office vocational training program which trains people for office positions including medical billing and coding positions as well as other medical and legal office positions.

While I can’t arrange for a job for any of the students or even accompany them on their job search, it is important, for the program’s reputation and marketing, that our graduates find work. As a result, I spend a sizable portion of my time coaching students on job search techniques as well as researching and talking with employers about what they are looking for in the employees they hire.

Applicant's Appearance is Very Important to Hiring Managers

In my research and discussions with employers I am not focusing on the technical skills they are looking for as the institution already has employer advisory boards and a research department both of which do a very good job of keeping me up to date on what skills we need to teach.

What I am looking for are the little things, commonly referred to as soft skills, which hiring managers are looking for and which they use to decide which person, among the many technically qualified people who have applied, to hire.

One can learn technical skills or the ability to successfully perform a task to produce a desired result. Other skills, such as getting along with people, teamwork, reliability, etc. are factors that are equally important but more difficult to teach or measure without actually observing a person on the job over time.

However, there are not only costs - things like help wanted advertising, cost of Human Resource Department personnel to take and process applications, the manager having to take time to interview prospective employees, etc. - which make it expensive to hire people and then let them go if they don’t work out, but also laws which limit an employer’s ability to fire people especially after their probationary period has passed.

In Job Interviews Good First Impressions are Everything

While there is no sure way of predicting how a job applicant will perform on the job there are things that can serve as indicators or proxies for these abilities. While most of these are not exact and are usually subjective, most people rely on them when making decisions.

Dress and appearance are two of the most common factors used in making decisions.

Yes, this is both subjective and a form of stereotyping. However, we use this all the time in our purchasing decisions.

Given a choice, people will tend to patronize stores that are clean, modern looking and have merchandise attractively displayed as opposed to ones that are dirty, run down and with merchandise carelessly tossed on shelves.

The same with people. When we first meet someone, we begin to make judgements about them. This is natural and, as the relationship continues and we get to know more about them our opinions change based upon the new information.

The problem with job interviews is that they usually last a few minutes which does not provide the interviewer with enough time to overcome a bad first impression.

In a Job Interview You are Selling Your Skill Set to An Employer

A job offer is nothing more than a purchasing decision by an employer. The only reason an employer hires employees is because they need the talents and skills of employees in order to produce the goods or services the business is selling.

Just as shoppers will tend to purchase goods that are attractively packaged and displayed more often than they will purchase items that are in unattractive packaging or poorly displayed because such items tend to look cheap and unreliable, so too will job interviewers tend to assume that job applicants who dress unprofessionally are not professional.

In my talks and conversations I keep emphasizing the fact that interviewing for a job is basically a sales and marketing activity in which the applicant’s objective is to sell the employer on the fact that the applicant’s skills are the solution to the problem the employer is trying to solve by hiring a new employee.

Private sector employers only hire people because they need the talent and other skills the employee has to offer. As such, the applicant’s goal is to convince the interviewer that they not only have the technical and other skills that the employer is looking for but that what is being offered is better than what the other applicants are offering.

Hide Body Art & Use Professional Dress for Job Interview and After Work Express Yourself With Body Art

There is nothing wrong with tattoos and other types of body art. However, body art is not something that most people associate with professional and office positions.

This is not to say that to say that someone who likes body art does not have the skills needed to be successful in a professional or office environment. However, many people, including hiring managers, customers and other business professionals tend to feel that visible tattoos and other body art are an indication that the wearer lacks professionalism.

Dress and appearance make a statement about a person. Just as it doesn’t make sense to go into a job interview for a position at a bank or a law firm and just talk about your love of fishing, it also does not make sense to go into an interview for such a position with your appearance describing you as being the exact opposite of the type of person you are trying to present yourself as.

So when you are seeking a job make sure that your appearance is saying the same things that you plan to verbalize in the interview. And this means that you remove the piercings and cover the tattoos.

This will greatly increase your chances of landing the job you want and give you the income that will enable you to afford engage in the activities after work where you can show off your body art in venues where it is appreciated.

© 2011 Chuck Nugent


Besarien from South Florida on March 28, 2016:

Good article with sound advice for people with body mods seeking employment. A lot of employers want an employee to maintain a strictly professional appearance because they represent their employers to potential customers. At one time, Disney had one of the most hardcore dress codes outside of banking because the company was utterly obsessed and invested in putting across a safe, conservative, wholesome, family-friendly public image. Even to wear a character costume completely covering a worker head to toe from the time the park opened until close, men had to wear short hair and no facial hair and women had to wear the correct barrettes and conservative hairstyles and have their nails clear coated and filed to no longer than a certain length. There were rules about every aspect of clothing, nails, shoes, and general personal hygiene. People were fired for any minor breach of official dress-code. Visible tattoos were anathema. I doubt it is quite as stringent now but don't know for sure. At the time I lived in Orlando and had many friends and neighbors working there.

Chuck Nugent (author) from Tucson, Arizona on November 10, 2014:

sweet girl daina - Thanks for your comment.

Just to clarify, this Hub is not about whether tattoos and body art are right or wrong. Instead, the Hub points out the problems one can encounter in getting a job with visible body art. I took pains not to give an opinion about tattoos and body art as my objective was to point out the negative effects of showing up for a job interview with visible tattoos or other body art. Not only did the majority of Human Resource hiring managers agree with what I wrote but a world famous tattoo artist, Hollywood's Paul Timman (a tattoo artist who many Hollywood celebrities to to for tattoos) was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as giving the same advice.

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In an April 23, 2011 Wall Street Journal article by Christina Brinkley entitled "The Rembrandt of Sunset Strip", Ms Brinkley describes Paul Timman, whose clients pay $140 an hour to have him do their tattoos, wrote "He doesn't like to tattoo hands or faces, telling people who request those, 'You know you'll never have a 9-to-5 job.'"

So, while people are free to express themselves by having tattoos, employers are free to not hire people because they feel the applicant's visible tattoos will have a negative on their customers or business environment.

sweet girl daina on November 10, 2014:

Nothing is wrong with body modification especially when u are expressing ur self

ClassyAtl from Atlanta, Georgia on October 14, 2014:

There is a time and place for everything. I have seen many beautiful tattoos lately and I always wonder what type of work the inked person does or where they work. Are they allowed to display their tattoos while at work? We all know that most corporations frown upon tattoos. At law firms, employees are not allowed to display tattoos, navel piercings, or tongue piercings. Yes, individuals are concerned with first impressions. However, depending on the industry that an individual is working, a tattoo may be appropriate or it could also be a major distraction. I do not believe in judging people and what they do. Everyone is entitled to have a tattoo if they so desire. Having tattoos is no long taboo or something that "Hells Angels" or gangsters have. All types of individuals are "tatted up" in this day and time.

Chuck Nugent (author) from Tucson, Arizona on May 19, 2014:

thelyricwriter - thanks for your comment. I agree that having visible tattoos and other unprofessional dress is a risk for job applicants.

While tattoos are becoming more common and people becoming more accepting of them today, job applicants have to keep in mind that a job interview for many jobs is not only relatively short but also usually the first time the interviewer meets the applicant. Since this is often the first time the interviewer meets the applicant who, for all practical purposes is a total stranger, the person's overall dress, including tattoos and piercings, becomes a major factor in the interviewer's first impression. If this first impression is negative the conclusion is liable to be that the applicant lacks the professional qualities the organization is looking for in its employees.

Once a person has been hired and the interviewer (who is more than likely now the applicant's new supervisor) has the opportunity to get to know the new hire better and view the person in action on the job, the person's dress (including tattoos and piercings) may not be as important.

Of course, if the job involves working with customers dress could still play an important role as the employer will have to take into consideration the image the organization wants to project as well as customers reactions to the employee's dress. Also, in larger organizations, upper level people who get to see the person with tattoos or other unprofessional dress, but not have any opportunity to get to know the employee, may have the impression that the employee is not professional and therefore not consider such employees for advancement.

Richard Ricky Hale from West Virginia on May 18, 2014:

In recent years, tattoos have become more accepting then at any other time. Even so, people are still judged for it and the article is dead on how many still view tattoos. I believe it is more defined as art these days but it's a risk you take when you get inked.

Chuck Nugent (author) from Tucson, Arizona on November 08, 2013:

idigwebsites - thanks for visiting and for your comments.

I agree with you about some organizations not hiring people with tattoos no matter how good they prove themselves to be. However, I think it is more the clientele the organization deals with and the image it wants to project. Part of my work with a community college involves managing a vocational office training program. I have co-workers who have tattoos and no one minds. However, I encourage students with tattoos to keep them hidden when interviewing for jobs in order to present a professional image in the interview. And, if their job will involve working with customers and general public I tell them that they will probably have to keep the tattoos hidden while at work. In the case of those training for medical office positions I warn them that they probably will have to keep the tattoos hidden on the job.

Students in the nursing program that is a part of the same division as my program are required by the hospitals where they do their clinical internships to cover their tattoos while in the hospitals. This involves covering tattoos on their face, neck, hands and forearms with bandages while on duty in the hospital.

idigwebsites from United States on November 08, 2013:

I guess it depends on the company or on the job itself. There are still many conservative firms out there that still won't accept applicants who wear tattoos, not matter how good they prove themselves. And me, I'm not against people who wear tattoos and body piercing, but imagine, what would our reaction be if someone who wears those things, gets to work in the office? It's really intimidating. Nice hub there. :)

Davycoolguy on October 03, 2013:

Most of the tattoo folk , can not even spell tattoo. Too funny.

Lynsey Hart from Lanarkshire on June 10, 2013:

First off, Im loving the comment about people being at the bottom of the social ladder... Im guessing they'd at least be above someone who cant phrase their insult correctly.

Secondly, nice hub! As a tattooed, pierced person, I am totally aware of the possible impact that these things can have to my chances of finding a job. (I must add that i have never been unemployed for more than a month, and have been with my current company 3 years, and they have a strict policy on tattoos)However, I must also add that I do think some people can take their tattoos a bit too far! I wrote a hub on this, but wont spam the place up!

Anyway, your hub is useful without being condescending- a risk that many people face when writing about this issue, and one that quite a few commenters have taken!

Voted up and useful!

luvdomus on November 16, 2012:

Anyone who would get large tatoos is stupid and has chosen a status at the bottom of the social ladder.

tattoos-intro on October 28, 2012:

There is still a stigma concerning people wearing tattoos and the job they do but it has got better thank goodness.

Davycoolguy on September 09, 2012:

I have every right to judge tattoos. I hire people and I am entitled to make money. Appearance does matter and tattoos are appearance. Just because you were dumb enough to follow another Hollywood fad, does not give you the right to dictate who I hire. I wont hire long hair people, pants on the ground, messy dressers etc etc. I have to make money and I will. By the way , I do think tattoos are ugly and dirty looking and nasty looking. That is my right to think that. I have walked out of insurance agency offices and real estate offices because I was being served by a tatted person. Again my right. Exert your individuality all that you want and so will I .

Chuck Nugent (author) from Tucson, Arizona on July 04, 2012:

Tattoos and piercings are becoming more acceptable in many work environments. However, first impressions count and in a job interview these along with other forms of otherwise acceptable casual dress tend to work against the applicant. My advice is to find an employer that is tolerant of tattoos and body art on the job but take care to cover these in the interview.

superpipoy on June 06, 2012:

I think tattoos and other forms of body arts are now accepted these days. In a company that I am currently working, they have no issues or not strict about tattoos as long as they won't be seen during working hours and as long as you can deliver your work properly to them. I think this wouldn't be an issue when it comes to work related matters. It is just a form of body art.

Chuck Nugent (author) from Tucson, Arizona on January 19, 2012:

Gatti - mysuggestion would be to remove at least two if not all three in each ear for the interview. After you are hired, wearing the earings probably won't be a problem unless the employer has a dress code that doesn't allow them.

To elaborate a little more on both the Hub and my reply to proliferatedriot, once you have been hired, dress will probably be more relaxed and not as important, as first impressions will be replaced with different impressions as supervisors and co-workers get to know you and see you as you really are rather than what you look like. Of course, if you job requires frequent in person customer contact you will probably be expected to dress in a way that customers expect - but again an insurance agent or stockbroker handling money for conservative middle aged people would be expected to dress differently than a tattoo artist in a tattoo parlor dealing mainly with twenty-somethings.

Chuck Nugent (author) from Tucson, Arizona on January 19, 2012:

proliferatedriot - I am not saying we should make judgments and generalizations about people based upon physical appearance. However, it is only natural that people would make judgments when all they have to go on is physical appearance.

This is the situation faced by a job interviewer. They meet a person whom they probably know nothing about, then have about fifteen minutes or less to try to get to know something about that person while interviewing them. Finally, after interviewing five or so additional people in the same manner, the interviewing manager has to choose one among them for the position. Knowing that once the person is hired the manager will have to will have to supervise that person and rely on that person to perform their job for as long as both are employed in that department. Not only is it often difficult, due to various laws and regulations, to fire someone who does fit in and perform well, but it is also time consuming and expensive to go through the hiring process.

Managers will thus generally make the best choice they can based upon the very limited information available. So, yes, appearance will enter into the decision in most cases.

My point is that, if you want the job you should dress for the part. For most office and professional positions it is usually best to dress conservatively.

This idea of dressing for the part works both ways. I suspect that without tattoos or piercings and dressed conservatively in a three piece suit or equivalent for a woman, would probably not be considered, because of their looks, if they were applying for a position in a tattoo parlor.

Gatti on December 30, 2011:

Does this include ear piercings for men? I have three in each ear lobe and am a guy.

proliferatedriot on December 28, 2011:

Wow Nan, you're absolutely right! How dare that monstrous person intrude on your conservative traditional lifestyle! And god forbid you ever have to deal with racial minorities or cripples! How dare these people try to interact with their betters!

proliferatedriot on December 27, 2011:

So in summation, we should continue to make judgments and generalizations about people based on their physical appearance. Progress towards acceptance, it's almost as if we've made none.

f on September 09, 2011:

Chuck: interesting hub with useful and sensible information; great Dice video, also, where a professional-looking young lady calmly gives a cautionary note to interviewees about covering tattoos and removing facial piercings (which kind of carries weight, since she is tattooed and pierced herself).

mikicagle: Re. 'I work professionally as a teacher and people are shocked when they learn that I have tattoos.' Yes, well, people should realize that it's less unusual than they maybe think, and basically you can take their expressions of shock as a compliment that you have covered them well in a professional environment.

BethanRose from South Wales on July 26, 2011:

This is a brilliant hub outlining the reasons that tattoos are not acceptable for job interviews and the information is greatly received. You have written the hub in a flowing manner and made some good points!!! Voted up!

Everywoman on July 26, 2011:

I agree with most of what I've read here. However, my daughter, 27, has multiple tats. I told her she should hide them, or try to hide most of them (has small ones on the sides of her neck and on wrists, feet, etc.)while she is looking for a job.

She said, "Oh mom, we're changing all that as we take over things for your generation."

I told her to still be careful about the tats and went (again) into my lecture of how unwise it was of her to get tatoos in the first place.

She went to the interviews. Two of them. Got two job offers. So much for what I know! She is a beautiful woman with a bunch of tatoos. Seems no one minds but me and my generation. At least she isn't pierced except for normal (pinhole) earring piercings in her ear lobes.

Also, I would offer a note of caution to those who are horrified by the piercings and tatoos: I work with young people at a college and the tatoos and piercings tell us nothing at all about what kind of kid we're talking to. A multiple pierced, horrifically tatooed young man is on the honor roll. A young man without a single tattoo or piercing had to be expelled. It is only self expression with them, and to some, a kind of art expression. So please don't assume a kid or young adult with tatoos or piercings are any better or worse than the next kid.

Venkat from Chennai on July 25, 2011:

Hi, very useful hub.

wedmed from US on July 25, 2011:

If you want not to get this job - show the boos your tattoo :) Seriously, if you apply for a position in a reputable company do not show off your tattoos!

AllSuretyBonds on July 25, 2011:

Why put a negative image in the way of you and your job.

A0PosterPrinting on July 25, 2011:

Great hub thanks - very useful and very informative.

J Burgraff on July 25, 2011:

Oh Chuck. I'm the girl next door with a lovely large tattoo on my body. I've worked productively my whole life, raised an incredible daughter and am so very, very sorry that you are blindsided by something that is absolutely, totally, never harmed you. But hey, this is America, and god I love free speech. Gotta go, on my way to a job interview.

FashionFactory on July 25, 2011:

nice hub. Thanks

kdodge from Massachusetts on July 24, 2011:

Its very sad to see all the negative comments here. If a tattoo is a way to express ones self and it sounds like many agree that make-up and hair styles fall into that category, then why are you only attaching the tattoo and not other forms of physical expression?

I stongly believe that a tattoo is not a cry for help, does not show insecurity and does not represent a person looking for attention.

Like with any time in history, there are activities that one will take part in just be 'cool', so yes there are some that get a tattoo simply for that reason, however, lumping all people with a tattoo into one group is rather childish and really no different than being prejudice against ones color, ethnicity or religion.

I have a tattoo, I know its for life. Because its for life is the reason I got it, it's a reminder of things dearest to me. In that regard how is a tattoo different than carrying around an old love letter or a locket around your neck, etc...?

It's funny how one of the most often said comment about a tattoo is that its for life and/or what are you going to do later when you get older and realize it was a mistake. Funny, nobody says this about having children. How many times to you hear horror stories about a person having a child and them dumping it on the trash or later on maybe even taking the childs life. Now stop and think, what in life makes you are bad person, someone who has a tattoo and maybe later in life regrets it (and it ONLY impacts them) or someone who has a child and then takes a humann life because they regretted it. Yes this is a harsh comparison, however, my point is simply, there are far worse things in life that someone could do to themselves or others for the same reason as 'just did it top be cool' or 'didn't think about how I would look later in life'.

Getting back on topic of a visible tattoo during an interview...I have been a manager for 15 years and have interviewed many people, not once did I care if I could see a tattoo or piercing. All I cared about was, on a day to day basic can you show up to work, do a good job and be a good co-worker to others, if yes, then what do I care if you have a tattoo. It's not the tattoo doing the job, its the mind, heart and soul.

Disastermind on July 24, 2011:

There is way too much downing of tattoos and piercings these days.

The problem that I seem to find is that most people (to put it bluntly) can't get over themselves and their own personal opinions of tattoos and piercings. This problem goes far beyond traditional body modifications.

I am a married mother of one, and a co-owner of a successful HVAC/R business. I deal with customers on a daily basis. I have several piercings on my faces, tattoos on my arms, chest, and legs. And not once, have I had a customer that refused to deal with me because of my appearance.

I think that the problem isn't with the tattoos and piercings in the work place; I think the problem is with the people that look down their noses at those of us that have them.

While I do feel that obscene tattoos should not be on public display, I feel that NO one person/group of people/company has the right to tell me or anyone else what is acceptable for a body that they do not own.

Personally, I am quite offended by women that go too long between hair dye jobs and wear too much make up. I am offended by artificial nails and hair. Men with hair plugs are replusive. I find men wearing button down shirts that are left open to expose their chest hair disgusting. And I have yet to see people getting their panties in a wad over a lack of personal grooming and poor fashion choices. But you know what? I have to look at what I assume is Grade A+ business types like this all. day. long.

I am 31 years old, and have grown ever so tired of uppity corporate snobs ragging on those of us that chose to decorate our bodies. Just because you're stuffed in a suit and constantly live with strict company and/or self imposed self righteousness doesn't give you, or your company the right to judge anyone based on their appearance.

So please, if any of you have children, do them a favour and NEVER teach them to be themselves. I advise you to kill their spirit at a young age since most of you seem to be hellbent on stripping away eveyone's freedom of self expression.

Side note: I bet a lot of you are also sitting there wondering why you currently do not (or if they are grown why you never did) understand your children/teenagers. Next time you have one of those typical "You just don't get me" fights with them, remember why you don't: You sold your right to your own opinions when you crapped all over everyone else to scurry up that oh so wonderful corporate ladder.

NMLady from New Mexico & Arizona on July 24, 2011:

UNM Biz School Career Dept. also tells students that there are THREE cracks that should not show when you go for a job interview...1. boob crack 2. butt crack 3. toe crack

It amazes me how little these 300/400 level students know about making a good impression for a job interview. There is an approptiate way to dress & behave, esp. IF you want to make good money....

Carlon Michelle from USA on July 24, 2011:

So many comments that it shows this topic are a strongly felt one. There is some body art I love. But I don't like now that people have made themselves walking canvasses. I know it's due to their own insecurity and lack of confidence that cause them to want the world to look at them even if it is just to tell them "I don't care what you think of me." The sad part is people change as do their life priorities and those tattoos are permanent. I don't feel anyone should be tattooed in an area that can’t be hidden by a short sleeve t-shirt and shorts. That way when they do go to a family function, church, or any event that is not that of the entertainment field, they can be looked upon as someone who loves themselves.

Kelcie Rae Dunn from Hamilton, NJ on July 23, 2011:

It's really funny, as I have plenty of tattoos, and have never had the trouble of finding a job. I work at a car dealership, as a service cashier among many other things, and I deal with the public everyday. I will also be starting sales next month.

My tattoos are normally covered up. Yes, sometimes it is bothering because it IS America, and the land of the free, so why can't people show what they decided to do to themselves for their own reasons? I understand both sides, but no one should be judged that way, not just by their piercings or tattoos, that is just plain wrong. It is not childish to have tattoos, rather artistic. Some do get things that are not exactly pretty or nice, but that's THEM, not you. I never understood why anyone would care what a complete stranger did to themselves--especially when it doesn't effect the other person in anyway whatsoever $6. Never, will I ever understand that.

Anyway, yes sometimes a job will judge you that way, but others that have understanding, non-biased people as the boss that is hiring, then you will find an accepting place to work, not one that says 'hey, show your tattoos whenever you want', but one that will hire you, but let you know they need to be covered.

It will get there someday, there are many business people that wear suits everyday, and under that suit is a work of art, somewhere--always--you will find someone like that. Tattoos are a part of our history and future. That will never change.

ershruti304 from Shimla on July 23, 2011:

I too share the same feeling. Neither do I have any tattoo on my body nor I support the idea of having it. I guess the environment at work place should be fully professional and such things really make me feel as if I am in some college campus with little kids.

Venture Boyz from Floating in the clouds on July 22, 2011:

I agree that the placement of the tattoo is everything. I myself do not have any tattoo's but I know folks who have gotten inked up and you would never know they had a tattoo. On the other hand, I also know people that have gotten tattoos in visible places and I fear that they will live to regret their decision.

htodd from United States on July 22, 2011:

Great hub..Thanks

giselenmendez from Berlin, Germany on July 22, 2011:

Well, I have three tattoos (one on my back, one on my right wrist and another one on the back of my neck) and I've never had any problem about it. That's the reason I agree with Captainausume, it's not a matter of having tattoos, we should focus on where the tattoos are placed and what they are.

Freegoldman from Newyork on July 20, 2011:

Great Hub.Its important to remember before an interview.A few more disadvantages are also there like Personal relationships can be affected by tattoos. Most professional positions in corporate business, medical, educational, law, and the military, as well as their administrative/support positions discourage hiring individuals with visible tattoos. And, the few professional careers willing to hire individual with tattoos have dress code policies mandating tattoos remain hidden on the job.

Tiny on Purpose from Sarasota, FL. on July 09, 2011:

i absolutely agree with you. however, if the general public was solely concerned with the display of vulgar or offensive tattoos, then i wouldn't be so upset. but the problem, unfortunately, is not the general public's dislike for blatantly offensive tattoos, but there dislike for ALL body modifications. i just feel that this is discriminating, plain and simple, and i would have thought that in this day and age, we as a country would have been more progressive and open minded.

Captainausume from New Jersey on July 07, 2011:

It's not so much a matter of having tattoos alone. It is more so a matter of where the tattoos are and what they are. There is a big difference between having a lilac on your ankle and having a flaming skull on your neck. If the tattoos can be hidden, it's not really an issue at all.

BetteMachete on July 05, 2011:

I think the stigma of having tattoos is becoming a lot less controlling to people seeking employees. Many high class, high earners have tattoos. Interesting article.

MyFavoriteBedding from United States on July 05, 2011:

My nephew is loaded with tattoos (I think he has 25) and unfortunately people do a double take when they see him, even in this day and age where there are so many people with tattoos. I feel there is a point where tattoos are way over done and are a HUGE deterrent to the person wearing them. I personally don't like them, but would never judge a person by how many tattoos they have, unless they had f___ y__ on their eyelids-unbelievable ha?

DoItForHer on July 03, 2011:

We give too much attention to irrelevant body art and not enough attention to the actual individual. If I wanted to make the most money, I would not make close-minded decisions primarily based on tattoos. I would make my hiring decisions primarily on the most competent individual; therefore, making the most money possible. I bet body art is pretty much a non-issue among stockholders. Or maybe I'm wrong on this count?

Of course some tattoos show the true nature of the person. I saw a guy who had f*** y** on his eyelids. Yes, his eyelids. When he closed his eyes, you got an eyeful. This particular tattoo does a lot to show his soft skills. Whereas a dolphin or a dog paw is in no way offensive except to the most sensitive or ignorant person.

The tattoo needs to be taken in context, much like anything else, and there will always be a grey area. What I would like to see is more objectivity instead of encouraging people to continue knuckling under to someone elses antiquated and less profitable decisions to blanket anyone with a tattoo. People are too important and competition between businesses is too fierce to continue this practice.

Md Tawhidul Islam on July 02, 2011:

i think tattoos is special for body,but its different mode.

Tiny on Purpose from Sarasota, FL. on July 02, 2011:

Dear Chuck, I want to say that i appreciate your point of view and i absolutely understand where you are coming from. I have quite a few tattoos and piercings, and I conceal and/or remove them when necessary. I do agree with the fact that teens and young adults should appreciate the fact that when they get a tattoo or a piercing they are putting something in their skin that is permanent and that they should put a great deal of thought and deliberation behind their decision. However, i also believe, very strongly, that the world is changing and that someday it will be common place to see a CEO of a fortune 500 company with some sort of body modification... someday. Until that day comes, however, how many millions of intelligent, ambitious, and hard working people world wide are unemployed because employers refuse to hire anyone with visible modifications, no matter how impressive their resume? it is an unfortunate and, indeed, depressing fact, that this discrimination is allowed to be practiced. Perhaps some of the other people who have commented on this hub are right, perhaps the world isn't ready for it. But someday, the Tattooed Generation will be in control. Perhaps some of your readers should consider that before they call us "junkies", "low lives", "ignorant", and "stupid". I respect your opinion, Chuck, but i urge you to recall what i'm sure your mother told you, and mine certainly told me whenever i was quick to condemn, "Never judge a book by it's cover."

Sincerely, Tiny on Purpose

Captainausume from New Jersey on July 01, 2011:

Very relevant Hub. I have had this discussion with a lot of people and I have to say that it is definitely an unfortunate truth that tattoos still have a ways to go before they are accepted everywhere...for now.

The reason so many people of my generation are not so willing to take defeat when it comes to covering our tattoos is that we are trying to push forward rather than stay where we are.

Yes, tattoos are increasingly popular, and one day we will all be running the businesses and will have more of an understanding that tattoos do not always reflect on a person's work ethic. At the moment they do not have a place in the business world, but maybe one day it will.

People will still be expected to dress in business attire and look like they care about your appearance. And perhaps it will be a long time before we sit down at staff meetings next to "The Lizard Man" (look him up if you don't know what I mean) but a man with sleeves will be able to show a little bit of wrist.

MMASMORRIS on June 30, 2011:

It's sad we think we have to copy the people who are celebrities, professional ball players, etc. who are unshaven and tattooed with tongue rings and twat piercings, My husband played pro baseball in the 50s and 60s, and says they were not allowed to go anywhere without shirts, ties and blazers when they weren't in the game. Of Course, he's old hat, but an avid ball fan, and it really upsets him to see how the players wear their hair, beards, piercings, etc. I suppose if a person can hit the ball and play well, he is excused from being neat and clean looking.

Jonesy0311 on June 29, 2011:

I absolutely agree with you. I am all for individuality, but one must remain professional. I have numerous tattoos to include an entire arm "sleeve." I have always worn a long-sleeve dress shirt to job interviews and covered up my art when at work (even in the summer).

KyleBear on June 29, 2011:

I've gotta agree with you Chuck.

Art Lover from LA, USA on June 27, 2011:

Yes, tattoo is an art and it actually doesn't make one less than who he actually is but if the tattoo calls for too much attention for being inappropriately placed, then it becomes a distraction to other people.

carolinemoon on June 27, 2011:

Tattoo is an art but not everyone seems to like it.

BraidHair from Nevada on June 27, 2011:

The fact remains, Tattoo artists are smart to guess conceptualize and present things in perfect manner. the above articles and images confirm them.

edw4rdcull on June 27, 2011:

I think it is not acceptable because people who use them have bad references to society

MyFavoriteBedding from United States on June 27, 2011:

What drives me crazy with these kids getting tattoos, is when they tattoo an area that is hard to cover up. Why can't people just be satisfied with putting a tattoo in a less conspicuous area. Like ExoticHippieQueen said, her daughter just wasn't thinking when she put the tattoos right on her wrists. She is going to hate it when it is hot outside and her new boss tells her to keep her tattoos covered. I just think many of these kids are young and they don't think in terms of forever. The doctors that remove tattoos are going to be making a fortune in the years to come!!

ExoticHippieQueen on June 26, 2011:

On another note, lol. I have a tattoo on the side of my leg. A benign half moon with a man's face. I don't think that would stop me from getting a job. It's more about where you put it, not as much as what you get put on your body.

ExoticHippieQueen on June 26, 2011:

I couldn't agree with you more! My daughter had the words "LOVE" and "HATE" tattooed, one word on each wrist. While that's bad enough, she did it on the topside of her wrist, so that it can be seen by everyone. I told her good luck getting a job and suggested that she wear wide bracelets on each arm or long sleeves for job interviews. She just wasn't thinking.

Joshua McDonald from Fort Collins, Colorado on June 25, 2011:

Hmmm - I would like to point out that yes that may be the case for most folks, unfortunate as that is. Those with Body Art are discriminated against technically even though they may dress very nicely, wear the $3,000 dollar suit, and have the degree and set skills to back them up. It's unfortunate that we have not yet learned to look beyond what our eyes show us. When often enough the solution isn't something we can see with our eyes. Although - I'd like to point out, that give it another 10 years, and those with tattoo's and piercings will be leaders in industries. Here's the thing, if you're an idiot who's getting a tattoo on your face, yah that's a problem, I wouldn't hire you, you're going to scare off people, if you're someone who's getting a bunch of piercings all over your face, nothing that looks professional, yah I won't hire a tackle box either; However, if you're someone who has tattoo's in respectable places, maybe ears pierced and that's it. But Dress very Nice, I'm not going to discriminate - Oh and by the way, being 25, with a tattoo sleeve on my left arm and another tat on my forearm both which are elegant and poetic by the way. and Gauges in my ears. I get compliments all the time from about anyone. Age doesn't matter. Maybe I don't know anyone who has issues getting jobs at any level because Colorado is different? Who knows, but I have an excellent job, get paid very very well, and never had any issues either. Interesting hub though - Although, I'd say most folks won't hire people with tattoo's for your regular every day customer service positions, but not the ones folks had to go and get degrees in. Sort of like Job placement, ya that's a difficult area for someone who's tatted and pierced up.

htodd from United States on June 25, 2011:

Looks great ,Thanks for the great post,Nice

Web World Watcher on June 18, 2011:

I tend to agree. I've got many qualified and articulate friends who are eternally doomed because of the tattoos coming out of their sleeves. gotta learnt o live with your decisions i suppose

Cliff Beaver from Murfreesboro, TN USA on June 11, 2011:


Comments aren't for promoting hubs. Thanks.

Furbush from Dirrrty Franklin, New Hampshire on June 11, 2011:

talfonso from Tampa Bay, FL on June 11, 2011:

You hit it spot on in your Hub! Although I co-work with Muetti in our 5Linx business, we don't wear any tattoos or piercings!

ThePelton from Martinsburg, WV USA on June 10, 2011:

Good Hub. The only thing is that I think it's a little ironic that you had ads for tattoo kits attached. I do happen to recall a book called "Dress for Success". Check on that.

Sarah Kolb-Williams from Twin Cities on June 09, 2011:

Very interesting points, thank you for a great article.

Granted this is a topic that's definitely industry-specific, I would point out that at the end of the day, the accepted dress code at any given company -- including tattoos -- is the decision of the company, which in non-franchise situations is the decision of the management as individual people -- it's going to be hit or miss, every time.

I'm a freelance book editor, and I act as senior content editor for my company. I'm a hard worker, and I'm dedicated. I also have a half-sleeve (a space scene -- nothing offensive or controversial). My current company appreciates the work that I do and doesn't mind my tattoo at all -- and frankly, I prefer not to work for a company that has an issue with something like a tattoo, which has nothing whatsoever to do with my work ethic or quality. I figure if a prospective employer has a problem with something so arbitrary (that can easily be covered with a long-sleeved shirt for formal meetings or presentations), it's a sign that I'm likely to end up feeling stifled by other arbitrary rules, and it tells me that I should keep looking and find a better, more comfortable fit for everyone.

Keep up the great articles!

Peter Yexley from UK on June 09, 2011:

40 years ago I had my first tattoo, to keep me out of trouble I had 'Dad' put on it, and proudly showed it to him.

His response; "you will regret it for the rest of your life"

I probably enjoyed it for a couple of years, then never wore short sleeved shirts again...and did regret it for the rest of my life and will continue to do so.

s4176766 on June 09, 2011:

at the end of the day if you aren't hired for a job because you have tattoo's it can be classed as a form of discrimination, you shouldn't be judged determinately because of the fact tht you have tattoo's or you made an error in judgement several years for tht matter.

whoisbid on June 08, 2011:

If someone is filthy rich it does not matter what they wear. If you want money from someone who does not like Tatoos- then don't use Tatoos. Make the money first and later you can have as many Tatoos as you like. If you don't want money from those people then ignore my message

BeccaM6 from East Grinstead, UK on June 08, 2011:

I see tattoos as a way of expressing yourself through your body art. I see why some people may find people with tattoos more threatening, but then we should not be judged by the way we look, as surely that is discrimination? If the person is just as good, if not better at their job than someone with no tattoos, then they deserve to be an employee. It is their own choice to get tattoos, people can have an opinion on whether they agree with them or not, but to discard someone from employment because of them seems stupid to me.

tbonet101 from Frederick, MD on June 08, 2011:

You have a good valid point. although, the baby boomers are retiring and the next generation after that is taking over. Tattoos and piercings in my generation is becoming more acceptable into society then it was 40 years ago. Don't get me wrong I would never hire a guy with a poor dress code and tons of tattoos and piercings. shows that they don't care.

Katherine Olga Tsoukalas from New Hampshire on June 08, 2011:

You know, I don't have tattoos but kind of admire people who do. It's a great way to express yourself. I think the best way is to find a balance between having them and being professional.

I love to wear cocktail dresses, but I wouldn't wear that to a job interview either. There is a time and place for that, just as there is a time and place to showcase the tats.

ivantsoft from US on June 08, 2011:

tattoos are ok but not in the office. Coming to a job interview with some redneck tattoo is out of range!

Zen Badger from Norwich on June 08, 2011:

Hi Chuck,

This is very interesting article.

I personally do not have any tattoos either. A lot of my friends however do,and some are almost covered. I have found that the line of work I am currently in ( support worker) seems to attract a lot of people who have tattoos and various body piercing's.

I have found that this seems to ring true in other related fields of work such as mental health, carers, support workers, social workers. ( This is just what I have witnessed personally and this does not apply to everyone.)

I have wondered if it is to do with the fact that these areas of work are about promoting individuals choice and personal preferences over company brand and appearance?

I could be entirely wrong, but it is an interesting subject!

I remember my Dad giving me the advice that you should not get tattooed anywhere that cannot be covered, especially by a shirt.

Great article.

peterhark69 from Canada on June 07, 2011:

Totally true. Tattoos are really art but I do agree that it is not really appropriate to have one that is shown especially if your work is dealing with other people. Tattoos are probably fine if you can hide it and no one can see it at work.

Thomas Mitchell from Bangor, Maine on June 06, 2011:

I personally don't have any tatoo's, and I have seen a fellow employee who was up for a promotion at work who did. She didn't get it because of the tattoo on her forearm. However with the popularity of tatoo's constantly increasing either the idea of not hiring tatoo'd individuals will change or half the population will be unemployed due to tatoo's. Studies show as it is that nearly 25% of the population 18-50 have tatoo's and increased numbers from the 18-29 range around 36%. (,2933,199143,00.html ) I'm not saying support it, but it seems to be inevitable in the near future.

suejanet on June 06, 2011:

I have a 24 year old daughter who has gotten 5 tatoos. They are not obnoxious, but I have been trying to tell her she may be sorry some day. I know tatoos do not have the same negative image they had 40 years ago, but they are not easy to remove.

Kaleolani on June 06, 2011:

Excellent Hub!! I think I may need some of your job coaching because I've been trying to work at a simple office job, and so far -- no luck! I'm only 23, and I often think I was born in the wrong generation. I'm not one for tattoos and big piercings. All of my friends have many, but I guess in this case i'm the odd ball. Great Hub, again!!

Mico on June 05, 2011:

I think its because tattooes are considered a swallow and at a job you have to face responsibilities.

Gaming Rhinoceros from Gilbert, AZ on June 04, 2011:

This should be added to the graduation ceremony program at every major college. Well-put and 100% true.

Tawhid224 on June 04, 2011:

looking outstanding

Chris from Illinois on June 04, 2011:

Great piece. I constantly seek new hires and the tattoo issue is a major problem in looking professional.I think I'm going to show your piece to all my staff.

emurph87 from Chautauqua County, NY on June 03, 2011:

While I understand the importance of first impressions, it's disheartening that there's such a negative stigma associated with body modification, particularly because it has been around for so long and can be a part of cultural identity.

On the other hand, this hub is both informative and explanatory. Us "Gen X" and "Gen Y" folk may not agree with it, but everything you write is true. I think it's not only important that the information is out there, but that it's explained in a way that anyone can understand. This hub does just that.

munirahmadmughal on June 03, 2011:

"Tattoos and Job Interviews"

There is always some wisdom in every word and action among human beings, with a past history and reason however remote it may be.Cultures vary, habits vary and taste also vary.For job interviews the main thing to be seen should be the qualification, the competition, the skill and actual ability about productivity with integrity. Liberty and conservatism both have their merits. Personal affairs must not come in the way of selection of a candidate. Selectors should bear in mind that many things in the interviewers are not liked by the candidates. Respect and dignity of mankind also requires that fairness must prevail.

May God Bless all and every where.

Emma from UK on June 03, 2011:

You seem to have a mixture of opinion from Tattoos being Tribal and ancient to immature and mainstream. I have quite a few tattoos and personally I put them in places that can and do get covered up for work. If however an employer had a grievance with that over how I could perform that particular job, it is not a place I would wish to work anyway.

jtyler on June 02, 2011:

Nice. I think I'll link to this in my hub about tattoos.

TroyM on June 02, 2011:

Everything looks good at its place and time. Tattoos are good for party, holidays etc. but certainly not good at work, interview.. Nice hub.

jshafer on June 01, 2011:

Personally, I don't care for tattoos or piercings, especially in places that can't be covered up. I often wonder how many people actually think of long term effects of getting tattoos and piercings. Such as while the tattoo may look nice to you now, how do you think it will look in 20-40 years as you age? Don't people realize that these tattoos will sag, wrinkle, become distorted as you gain or lose weight, age and/or leave permanent scars?

My daughter's friend had an eyebrow piercing, which she finally removed. It left a scar, and she no longer has a full eyebrow! Another friend had a belly button ring, that we she got pregnant, had to be removed and now that's an ugly scar. Common people, what is "cool" now, may leave permanent scarring that you will regret later!

Cliff Beaver from Murfreesboro, TN USA on May 31, 2011:

Whereas having a tattoo doesn't mean that you cannot be mature and professional, how people perceive you and first impressions matter a whole lot. You can still have tattoos and get a great job at a reputable employer. However, don't flaunt them and try to make sure you can make them acceptable for the occasion, meaning if they shouldn't be seen, make sure they can be covered up.

Great hub. It was a good read. Rating as useful and up up up!!!:)

KK Trainor from Texas on May 31, 2011:

Great hub! I am someone who has had a series of professional jobs and a series of not so professional jobs. Everything from horse training to working at an investment firm. I have worn business suits to work and worn jeans and t-shirts at times. I also have 5 tattoos and when I got the ones on my arms I was very careful to have them high enough so that a short sleeve dress shirt would cover them. I can show them off when not working, and cover them when need be. But an interview is not the place to show something like that. I would never get one in a place that couldn't be easily covered with clothing. I am a little old for body piercings so that's no worry.

As for JMAW's comment about police and tattoos, my husband is a cop and if he gets any large ones on his forearms he has to wear long sleeves to work. It's a dept. policy and it varies from place to place.

The younger generation have a sense of freedom (entitlement) to fight the norm that we didn't have when I started working. And getting through to them is so difficult because so many of them are not used to being told no.

JMAW from Hawaii on May 31, 2011:

I think you make alot of good points but in Hawaii, maybe because it is Hawaii, this is just not the case. I cannot tell you the number of Police Officers who have full arm sleeves or how many business men and women with other visible tattoos. I personally don't see this as a problem but I can see why many people are still averse or consider this to be unprofessional. In the grand scheme of things, these little nuances that we argue over don't mean much to the Soul but in daily life and determining whether someone makes an extra thousand here and there I suppose it is important. Great hub and discussion!

StarLG from United Kingdom on May 31, 2011:

Nice post, very interesting.

Rat in a Cage from Redneck Desert City, USA on May 31, 2011:

I'm sure that your article summarizes the conservative viewpoint very nicely. But personally, I wouldn't want to work for someone who needs a fainting couch after seeing my nose ring, anyway. Times change; at one point, a woman who showed up to work (or school, or church) in trousers was considered underdressed and vulgar.

radagast from England on May 31, 2011:

Very good hub. I was surprised by some peoples comments like "everyone who gets a tattoo regrets it" and "tattoed junkie looking type". I have eight tattoos which includes a full sleeve and half leg. I have been a company director for 10 years and a senior business consultant for 5 years. However the point is well made whether we like it or not many interviewers will be judgemental and tattoos on show will influence decisions.

However I have performed and watched/coached many interviews and many other things influence interviewers decisions as well.

Hair style, height, weight, clothing, so of course its not just tattoos or piercings that effect interviewers decisions. Everything has an effect. The key is to relate to the person you are being interviewed by and if your apperance reflects the job you are applying for that will probably improve your chance of success.

I purposely chose to have all my tattoos so i could easily cover them (when i want to) so when i wear a suit and tie for any business meetings no one knows about the art i have, i am very proud of my art.

So the decision is yours if you wish to have tattoos and not cover them up, that is your choice, it could however effect your chances of success in some job interviews and if you are happy to take that chance then that is up to you.

Wear your tattoos with pride.

Chad Young from Corona, CA on May 30, 2011:

I agree, If you are going to express yourself in this way then you are limiting your job opportunities. I think most people don't think about this until after they have already done it and are having a hard time getting a job, especially In these times it's even harder. Some people don't care and others do so I really think it is up to the individual to make the decision but they should consider these ramifications. Many employees don't care but a majority out there will. Great hub!


lazko from the Earth on May 18, 2011:

It's a great detailed hub after all but it presents the authors point of view. No offense to anyone, I just think a person have to present her/his self and do not be shamed of what he/she is. My interview passed very well and I was hired despite the temperate tattoo I had on my neck. Anyway, thanks for the hub, its an interesting one.

Tattoosiastic on May 12, 2011:

I think everyone should make their own decision about getting tattoo. Nice hub.

Mrs. J. B. from Southern California on May 11, 2011:

Beautifully said. I enjoyed how well you explained why.

Viola Landers on May 11, 2011:

Although piercing or having tattoos is a kind of art that some people mostly engaged, I won't do it. It is really painful.

nicoreyes on May 10, 2011:

Excellent post, I personally have tattoos, but before i ever planned on getting one i knew they had to be hidden in the mean time until long after school and settling into a career.

Although i am proud of my tattoos, and hold no regrets whatsoever, i did have to come to realize that they could and would be a problem if not careful. Also based on the unspoken rules of society, tattoos in certain spots do somehow put a label ( although probably untrue) on the individual. Excellent article chuck.

smileNtherFACES from Mid Cali on May 09, 2011:

I didn't get my ink to hide it, I am proud of my expression and art, if what I wear happens to cover it so be it, why be shamefull of something your proud of?,..or happy about?......I was raised to stand up for what you believe in, freedom is one thing I believe in, in this case, freedom of expression. I never waste an ounce of energy worrying about what people think about my ink. Its not your business what other people think of you.

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